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Posts Tagged ‘high school memories’

I was lucky. I had more than my share of wonderful teachers. Of all the teachers I had in seven periods times four years plus some changing at the quarter or semester, there was only one I did not get along with. There was some kind of “reverse chemistry” or bad chemistry between us. I think part of it was that everyone always told her that she was a slightly older version of me and they told me that I was a slightly younger version of her. She was a first year teacher and didn’t like being compared to a student. I think that was part of it. But, I had wonderful teachers who actually believed me over her and went to bat for me so when she tried to fail me, she couldn’t.

The school is on the east side of San Jose in California. It’s now a really bad place to live but in those days, the immediate area around the school was not so great with the outer areas being pretty good, if not great. The school had its share of tough kids. No gangs in those days but definitely groups that didn’t get along with each other. It was not an affluent area, for the most part. The teachers at the school could have jobs at other schools, and other districts in the city, some of them much closer to their homes. But the CHOSE to be there, at that school, with those students. They chose to serve that community and try to teach the kids that weren’t the highest academically. There were a few of us that were above average, but very few. I believe that I was in the group of the first ten students to be accepted at a private university and about the first to get a full academic scholarship. The student body wasn’t made up of shining stars. But the teachers chose to be there, often accepting a salary less than what they could get at an adjacent school district. Why? Because they were dedicated teachers. Their hearts were in the right place…with us! I think that’s why they were so inspiring. At least to me, they were the best. They were the epitome of what a teacher should be. I learned more than academics from them. They changed my life and not a day goes by that I don’t think of one or the other of them.

That’s what teachers should be. I’m glad I was privileged to have so many wonderful examples.

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Today I am revisiting a post from March 9, 2015 for Throwback Thursday Link Up hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster. Check out the link for more revisited blog posts.

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Earlier today, I read a blog which talked about the Eric Burdon and War song, Spill the Wine. I commented that I recalled the song well and that it was a favorite when it came out in the early 70’s.

“I was once out strolling one very hot summer’s day
When I thought I’d lay myself down to rest
In a big field of tall grass
I lay there in the sun and felt it caressing my face”

I remember walking home from high school (we lived within bus riding distance and we rode the bus except when we manufactured reasons to stay after school and miss the bus), my sister and I, listening to music on the radio my sister smuggled into school. Every day we would hear Spill the Wine played by the same DJ. It must have been a favorite of his, too. It’s one of those singable, danceable songs and we would do just that…sing along and practically dance home while it played. Once in a while a car would drive by and they would honk and wave at us while we pranced home singing. Unfortunately, one day one of those cars that honked at us was driven by our dad. He had gone to pick get our younger sister at the middle school so he decided to drive by our walking route and give us a ride. He was very angry that we were “parading down the street like clowns.” That put a stop to our walking home for a long time. We would have to ride the bus or call our dad to come get us. No more prancing along to Spill the Wine or any other song.

CJC laughing

1974…Those were the days!

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When I was in high school, I took journalism. I had been on the school newspaper staff in middle school and I knew I wanted to be on the school newspaper staff in high school. However, at the high school you couldn’t just be on staff. First you had to take a year of journalism then you could be on staff. My freshman year I signed up for the required Journalism I class and found out I was the only freshman in the class. I stuck with the class through learning to write effective lead paragraphs, including the Five W’s, writing clear headlines, interviewing techniques, research, and a whole lot more. I truly loved everything about journalism.

My sophomore year, I was finally on the newspaper staff (the Cardinal Tribune). I loved chasing down stories and our faculty adviser took us to some events that we could write about for the paper. I remember going to see William F. Buckley, Jr. at the campus of San Jose State (front row seats, no less) and I also attended a dinner where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was speaking. Those are two I remember quite well. We also were encouraged to see movies at the theater and review them for the newspaper. Sports events at school were also high on the list. It became a great way to get out of the house because my parents were very strict and rarely let us go any place so if I said I had to cover something for the newspaper, we could go!

My junior year, I was the Sports Page Editor! I mostly assigned stories and read them and handed them back to the writer to rewrite them when necessary. I wasn’t then, nor am I now, into sports so I felt it was better to leave the writing to others. I did attend football and basketball games and an occasional track meet but I mostly did not write about the sport. I would write about the fans, the spirit squad, the fan, and the experience of attending the game. I did cover one sport, though. I had a friend on the wrestling team, Manny Alvarado, who asked me one day why the newspaper never sent a reporter to cover wrestling matches. I quipped that if his team started winning, I would start sending a reporter to matches. So Manny said to me, “Come to my match and I’ll pin my man!” So I went. And he did! After that, I always covered the wrestling team!

By the time I got to my senior year, I was the only person in the history of the school (okay, it was a relatively new school, I was in the sixth graduating class) that had ever taken Journalism all four years. By then, I was going with our adviser to proof read the newspaper at the print shop the afternoon it was printed. We would find all the errors, fix them, and give our OK then that night the paper would be printed and then delivered to our school by noon the next day so we could distribute it during sixth period.

Journalism class and the newspaper staff were probably what taught me more than any other class during high school. I learned not only the newspaper business, but I learned how to look at things from different angles to get the best story. I learned how to ask questions and listen to the answers. I learned how to approach people and experiences that I might not normally have approached. I learned how to take direction and how to give it. I learned how to take criticism and how to give it. I learned how to take responsibility for my deadlines, for my articles, and for my decisions. It was a wonderful eye opener for me. The friends I made in Journalism and on the school newspaper, are still friends now, some forty years later.

Journalism had a lot to do with who I am now and for that, I will never forget (Journalism) Room 609, Mr. Del Rio (our faculty adviser), or the Cardinal Tribune.

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Earlier today, I read a blog which talked about the Eric Burdon and War song, Spill the Wine. I commented that I recalled the song well and that it was a favorite when it came out in the early 70’s.

“I was once out strolling one very hot summer’s day
When I thought I’d lay myself down to rest
In a big field of tall grass
I lay there in the sun and felt it caressing my face”

I remember walking home from high school (we lived within bus riding distance and we rode the bus except when we manufactured reasons to stay after school and miss the bus), my sister and I, listening to music on the radio my sister smuggled into school every day. Every day we would hear Spill the Wine played by the same DJ. It must have been a favorite of his, too. It’s one of those singable, danceable songs and we would do just that…sing along and practically dance home while it played. Once in a while a car would drive by and they would honk and wave at us while we pranced home singing. Unfortunately, one day one of those cars that honked at us was driven by our dad. He had gone to pick our younger sister up at the middle school so he decided to drive by our walking route and give us a ride. He was very angry that we were “parading” down the street like clowns. That put a stop to our walking home for a long time. We would have to ride the bus or call our dad to come get us. No more prancing along to Spill the Wine or any other song.

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Going Home

At the end of the week, I’ll be going back to my hometown to attend a high school reunion.  It’s not just for my graduating class but for everyone that graduated in the 70’s.  I’m glad to be going but the closer it gets, the more memories flood back across my mind and they aren’t all good memories.

I haven’t lived there since 1974 when I graduated from high school and went off to college but it’s still home.  It’s where I was born and where I grew up.  It’s where my family was once all together and happy.  It’s where I went to school; where I first learned to love school and writing; where I learned to drive and had my first kiss and my first job.

It’s also where my brother is buried and where there are fragments of our broken family.  It’s where, every time I leave the area, my heart aches to be leaving.  It’s home.

This week will fly by and before I know it, I will be there and just as quickly, the weekend will be over and I will be headed back to where I now live.  I’ll have other memories to add to the ones I now have and I’m sure they won’t all be positive ones but they’ll be my memories and part of going home.

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Determined to begin making more frequent posts here, I was trying to figure out what I could write and my mind turned to alliteration.  Monday.  Memories.  Memoir.  Monday.  Okay.  A post about some memory for Monday!  Easy.  I have lots of memories.  Okay, pick one.  Hhmmmm.  Okay there’s the one about…hmmmm.  Or how about when…hmmmm.

Finally, my mind thought about Monday.  Or should I say Mundy.  Larry Mundy.  Who is that you ask?  Larry Mundy was an English teacher at my high school.  He wasn’t ever my teacher except for a few days in freshman year when we had to undergo some kind of testing and I had to go to his class.  He also did a week long lesson on speed reading techniques for all the freshmen and we all rotated into his class for a week.  But he wasn’t really my teacher.

Mr. Mundy was tall. (But coming from someone that is only 5 feet, that’s not really a good description.)  He had dark brown hair with bangs that always hung over his eyes and he spent a lot of time kind of flicking his neck to get the hair out of his face or brushing it aside with his hand so he could see through his glasses.  He always wore a suit but that’s not saying a lot because in those days, every mail teacher at my high school wore a suit, with the exception of the P.E. teachers.  Mr. Mundy had a mustache and I remember he smiled a lot and if memory serves, he was an all around easy going guy.  I don’t remember anyone having negative things to say about him.

One of the things that stands out in my mind when I think of Larry Mundy is that while I was in high school, he was picked as a member of the federal Grand Jury.  At first glance, this wasn’t a big deal to me or to most of the students at the school.  However, Mr. Del Rio, my journalism teacher and advisor for the school newspaper, The Tribune, made us realize it was a big deal.  He wanted us, the newspaper staff, to write about Mr. Mundy’s appointment and about the role and importance of the Grand Jury.  Mr. Del Rio was a history/civics teacher when he wasn’t advising/teaching journalism, so the Grand Jury thing was a big deal to him.  We ended up doing research on the Grand Jury and interviewing Mr. Mundy and several other teachers in the English and Social Studies Departments as well as the Principal about what it would mean to the school to have a teacher on call or the Grand Jury.  In the end, we had a series of front page stories related to Mr. Mundy’s appointment.

I don’t remember that his status as a grand juror ever interfered with his teaching job, or at least in a way that was obvious to the student body.  Mr. Mundy remained the same easy going guy with the long hair that he had to keep wrestling away from his eyes.  It occurs to me that Mr. Mundy would be a really interesting person to interview now, decades later, about his duty and service as a grand juror.  Rudy Del Rio was right.  It was a big deal.  I’m glad it happened because it taught me about the grand jury and the legal system and civic responsibility.

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While I earned top grades in high school, my downfall has always been math with science taking a close second. It’s not that I did poorly in science classes, I just didn’t enjoy it like I did social studies, language arts, journalism, and foreign languages. Consequently, I found myself lacking a year of science for my college prep when I reached the end of my junior year. That meant that I had no choice, I would have to take a science class during my senior year.

Reluctantly, I showed up to my third period Biology class on the first day of school and found out that I was the only senior in a class full of sophomores. To top things off, I would be late for class every day of the school year because I was the person that read led the flag salute and read the announcements over the P.A. system for the whole school. It turned out not to be too bad because all the sophomores looked up to me and, mostly, because the teacher was really kind of cute. He wasn’t cute in the traditional teenage girl’s eyes. Mr. Gallo was just a normal every day kind of guy, balding even, but he had a gleam in his eyes and a cute smile and was very friendly and accessible.

I remember riding the Booster Bus to football games and making sure that I rode on the bus that Mr. Gallo was chaperoning. We would tease him and make up songs about him and make him blush. There was a whole group of us that had developed a crush on him. We weren’t really forward about it but he knew we were all kind of ga-ga over him.

Mr. Gallo was also a great science teacher. He made it entertaining and easy to understand. When we had to do labs, he was right there to help us get through anything gory. He didn’t make us do anything we really couldn’t stomach, yet he did make sure we learned the material that we were responsible for mastering.

One day, he told us we were going to watch him do a lab in front of the class. We would not be doing it ourselves because it involved using acid and a Bunsen burner and it was dangerous to have 30+ students with a potential explosive device at each table. We all pulled our chairs to the front of the room and arranged them so we could see what he was doing at his work table in the front of the room. Mr. Gallo made sure that we could all see. He had the shorter students sit up front for unobstructed views, which meant I was in the first row. Mr. Gallo began the experiment by showing us everything he was doing and asking us questions about what he should do next and what we might expect, etc. Suddenly, without warning, there was an explosion that shattered the glass tube (is it called a beaker?) on the Bunsen burner and sent acid flying all over the place! Mr. Gallo’s first concern was for us, his students. He immediately yelled for us to get back and asked if we were all okay. He instructed one student at the back of the room to run to the class next door and get the teacher to come immediately and asked another student to get on the intercom and tell the office we needed the nurse with her emergency bag in the room right away. He started calling each of us by name and making sure we were okay and instructed us to go to the sinks at the back of the room and wash off any exposed skin, especially on our faces. It was only when there was another adult in the room and when he made sure we were all moving to wash off any acid that gotten on us that he walked to a sink and began to wash the acid off of himself. He had gotten it on his shirt and on his arms (he was wearing a short sleeved shirt) and on his hands.

In the end, it was all okay. None of the students had been injured. Some of us had our clothing burned by the acid (including my most prized piece of clothing, a dark green brushed corduroy blazer) but we were all spared any physical injury, largely due to Mr. Gallo’s quick thinking and command during an emergency. Mr. Gallo, however, did end up getting acid burns on his forearms and on his hands. He was okay but he did sustain those burns, mostly because he took care of his students before washing the acid off of himself. We were his priority and thanks to him, we were all safe.

I learned a lot in Biology that year. A lot of it was not about Biology but about priorities and taking care of one’s charges before taking care of oneself and I still remember Mr. Gallo several times a week.

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